Friday, January 17, 2003

Beatification will test Vatican's ties to Islam

John Paul II is likely to offend many Muslims with his decision to beatify Father Mario D'Aviano, who defended Christian Europe against invading Turks in the 17th century.

D'Aviano, a Capuchin friar, inspired Christian forces to rout the Turks, who were besieging Vienna and threatening to overrun Europe. As a champion of Europe's Christian identity, he is not appreciated by contemporary Islamic fundamentalists: security measures will be particularly rigorous when he and five other people are beatified at St Peter's on April27.....Born in the Venetian republic in 1631, he left his Jesuit college to join the republic's forces fighting Turkish invaders. On the way to the front he had to seek refuge in a Capuchin monastery, where he decided to become a Capuchin friar rather than a warrior.

.....He became famous as a preacher and a healer, and was appointed an adviser to the Habsburg Emperor Leopold I.

When Turkish forces that had already conquered Belgrade besieged Vienna for two months in 1683, D'Aviano, at the behest of Pope Innocent XI, joined the irresolute Leopold outside Vienna, where he strengthened the emperor's resolve, persuaded the divided and outnumbered Christian forces to choose Jan Sobinski, the Polish king, as their leader, and preached to the Catholic-Protestant-Orthodox forces on the importance of defending Christian Europe.

On the night of September 11, 1683, the Christians forced the Turks, 20,000 of whose troops had been killed, to raise the siege.









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